A few days ago, my husband and I went to lunch at a lovely hotel. As we were leaving, I held the door open for two little girls, followed by their mother. The girls walked through saying, “thank you!”. Their mother, who just touched the door I was still holding, grouched at her two little ones, “Why am I holding the door for you? I am not your servant!”.
This was a shocking statement for a number of reasons, including, but not limited to:
- She was not holding the door open, I was.
- She did not thank me, but expected the girls to thank her
- Her acrid words, “I am not your servant!”, as if serving her daughters was beneath her.
My Grandma cooked every single meal at her house, preparing every component, and no one else was allowed in the kitchen. The one exception to the Grandma-prepares-all edict was morning toast. Every morning, Grandpa would wake before Grandma, shuffle to the kitchen, put on the percolator (that’s a coffee pot, for you kids) and make the toast. After Grandpa died, I asked Grandma what the hardest part of his passing was. She didn’t miss a beat – it was toast. For the first time in nearly 50 years she had to make the toast. For years after his death, she cried every morning as she made toast. Toast represented love and devotion in service to her, and then – profoundly – the loss of being served.
When I was in treatment for osteosarcoma, my husband was my voice, my legs and my advocate. Through much of my treatment, I was either in agony, asleep or hung over a bucket getting sick. He held my hand, tucked me in, cleaned up, took my temp, fed me meds, and never left my side. In the pediatric cancer center I was treated in, the parents were doing the same – they were serving their child. It was profoundly beautiful.
Whether you are religious or not, try and appreciate the example Jesus gave us when he washed the feet of his disciples. Two thousand years ago people wore sandals on the dirt roads they shared with livestock and carriages – they had really, really dirty feet. Washing their nasty feet was no small gesture, but he did it -he kneeled and washed them. Mother Theresa spent her days feeding, washing and caring for the smelly, derelict, ill, dying and forgotten humans of Calcutta India. She served the untouchables with wholehearted grace and love with no expectation of a paycheck, or thanks (unlike me for holding the door for Crankypants Mom…).
It is the greatest undertaking in life to be a servant to another human being – to wash their feet, hold the door and make the toast is truly noble. It is the silent language of love. Agents, thank you for your service to kids who are suffering. In 2017, you have completed many missions, been a part of our FACTOR Conference, helped fund meaningful research and truly Made It Better. With your kindness, generosity and service, we can continue to provide direct patient support and improve the state of osteosarcoma in 2018. We are immensely grateful for your service and commitment to Make It Better. To you Agents, to osteo doctors, researchers, families, and friends – and to 2017 – a toast.